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March 7, 2014

Press Box Views: Referees' calls can change games

OKLAHOMA CITY — Everyone likes games that come down to the end and someone steps up and hits the game-winning shot in the final seconds.

A late foul call by the referee and a player sinking free throws to win the game doesn't sound as appealing. That's exactly what happened in the Class A girls state semifinal game between Frontier and Seiling Friday night at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.

The Lady Mustangs were in position to win the game and just needed to hold on to the ball and make free throws, with a 34-33 lead with 11 seconds left. A Seiling defender grabbed Frontier's Thristan Young's jersey, which according to Frontier coach Bob Weckstein had been happening throughout the game, and went unnoticed by officials Jason Frantz and John Ott.

Like a normal teenage girl, Young had enough and elbowed the girl. Young was called for a technical, which Seiling made one of two free throws to tie the contest. Then on their possession the officials called a foul on Frontier's Callie Lane with six seconds left. The Lady Wildcats made one of the free throws to ultimately win the game.

Now by no means am I condoning Young's actions, and Frantz and Ott made the right call in giving her a technical. However, not all the blame falls on Young.

If the other girl was being physical with Young, and it was brought to the officials' attention earlier in the game, they should have been more attentive to it and the last second actions may not have occurred. It is the duties of the officials to manage the game and keep it from getting out of hand.

I'm usually opposed to saying the ref cost a team a game because a team could execute better and not have been in that situation. Certainly Frontier could have done some things better. The timing of an official's call can greatly impact the game and more importantly a players' life.

In my opinion, there wasn't much contact made by Lane. At that point of the game, the referees should have let the game play out.

Young had a great tournament. Her strong play offensively in the quarterfinals is a big reason why Frontier took the court Friday night. Unfortunately she left the court thinking she cost her team a chance to play in their second state championship in three seasons.

The last field goal made by Seiling was with 4:48 left in the game. Their last three points came from the free throw line, where the game-winning points were scored.

I want to be very clear that Seiling is a great team and deserves to be playing for a championship Saturday, but it wasn't the result of their players making a great shot — it was because they earned the opportunity to shoot from the free throw line.

Congrats Jason Frantz and John Ott, you were the stars of the game.

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